Growing Into Grace with Nneka Okona

Nneka Oneka

Growing into Grace is a life elevating series on growth, grace, and womanhood. Grace has been the most pivotal part of my coming of age. Daily I give thanks for grace and constantly I am working on giving myself and others the same grace that God gives me. In this series, join me as eight amazing women give their insight on the 5 Things They Know for Sure and their take on “Grace, not perfection,” and what that means in their lives currently. Feel free to comment below and share their insights on social media!

Nneka Okona is a phenomenal writer and world traveler that shares her personal thoughts, travel adventures, and much more through her own internet space Afros Y Paella as well as thoughtful freelance essays in major publications. Her writing has been featured in Ebony, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and much more. Her work is reflective, thoughtful, engaging, and truly written with and from the heart. She also coaches writers with her Heartist Writing Sessions which encourage writers to “write from the hidden parts of themselves.” Always reminding us to write from the deepest places, Okona is a breath of fresh air in a time when so much feels related to follower counts and likes.

Nneka Okona, Afros Y Paella

When I think of “Grace not perfection,” I think of the expansive spaces between. The space between where we are now and where we have yet to go. Within that space is an opportunity. An opportunity to rise, to become more true and to be.

5 Things I Know For Sure

When I choose to follow my heart, in whichever way I do, the Universe will rise up to meet me. To be courageous, to be brave, to live in a heart-centered way is not to act without fear. It’s to act alongside fear, making friends with the fear which whispers and tries to discourage you and knowing, on some spirit level, that all will be okay. It’s a hard thing to do and an even harder thing to master. In my own life, it’s a muscle I’ve worked at strengthening for years and in some ways still have work to do. But I know, without any doubt, as I’ve seen it reflected in example after example that the Universe rewards us for our courage and creates a path for us to walk on making our desires, dreams and wants possible.

Love is more than a feeling. At a young age, I was indoctrinated to believe that love, at least romantic love anyway, was some magical or whimsical affair that just happened to you. You got caught up in the air of love and got swept away, and therein your fairytale had a happy ending. I’m older and wiser now, and it’s clear to me love is a series of choices, whether or conscious or not. It’s not something that just happens. It is, instead, something, we, day in and day out, moment to moment, choose to foster and let grow.

CLICK TO TWEET/// Love is a series of choices, whether conscious or not. It's not something that just happens. -Nneka Okona

Creating space in my life to create, to write must be intentional. Amazing work is where inspiration meets intention. In the way I readily make time to cook, to sleep well, to enjoy a soul-stirring and soul-nourishing cup of hot tea after a long day, is the same way I must prioritize the time needed to create and write. The other piece to this is that there must be a sacred space in my life — emotional, mental and physical — for creation time to occur. I must continually do the work to make sure the space I’ve erected remains sacred, strong, sure and special.

Boundaries are non-negotiable. The heart space is a tender one. Setting boundaries isn’t to keep people or things out like people often think. Boundaries are a means of protection, of keeping the heart center whole and free from outside influences which might tarnish its magnanimity. Things like saying no and meaning it, remaining firm on those things you don’t want or like and remembering to always put the care of yourself first before anything, not only help to preserve your sanctity but instruct others on how to treat and care for you as well.

CLICK TO TWEET/// Setting boundaries isn't to keep people or things out ... Boundaries are a means of protection. -Nneka Okona

Choosing to unequivocally to be who you are is when life begins to blossom. You can’t keep the sun in a box. A year ago when I moved back to my hometown of Atlanta and was struggling with feeling lost, my spiritual advisor asked to look into my life and identify the parts of it where I felt unfree. The list ended up being long with the starting point of me needing to embrace more of who I was.  Being who I am has taught me countless lessons on being fully free. I didn’t realize until I let myself stop feeling so chained of other’s expectations of me why I kept hitting a wall — I was trying to be the woman I was not. And when I focused on being the woman I do know, love and cherish, the wellspring of life flowed through me.


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